"Rouge is a fever dream—a brilliant, intense, unforgettable horror story about a beauty cult with a deeply moving mother-daughter story at its core. Mona Awad’s signature and singular imagination and black humor and empathy are on full display here, and her wild-ride of a tale is masterfully grounded in the emotional devastation of childhood and grief. I loved every word of this."
—Laura Zigman, author of Small World
"There is nobody else like Mona Awad, daring enough to plunge her hands—rings and all—into the viscera of story and discover an unsettling beauty within. ROUGE is her most magnetic work yet, a thrilling dystopian romp that knows that beneath the glossy, aspirational veneer of self-care lurks the same old gothic abyss."
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
"A brilliant, biting critique of western beauty standards as well as a soaring, phantasmagoric, Angela Carter-esque fairy tale about trauma and the loss of self. Rouge is deeply unsettling, funny, obsessive, and unlike anything I've read. A truly mesmerizing read."
—Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
"Unsettling, whimsical, and moving, Rouge is an authentic, innovative kind of narrative magic that's both surreal and absolute. A striking novel of incandescence and heart."
—Iain Reid, author of I'm Thinking of Ending Things
From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny comes a horror-tinted, gothic fairy tale about a lonely dress shop clerk whose mother’s unexpected death sends her down a treacherous path in pursuit of youth and beauty. Can she escape her mother’s fate—and find a connection that is more than skin deep?
For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Méduse, the same lavish, culty spa her mother to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror—and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.
Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy, grief, and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humor and seductive horror, ROUGE explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry—as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze. Brimming with California sunshine and blood-red rose petals, ROUGE holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath.